Getting Out of Dangerous Situations in the Outdoors

Getting Out of Dangerous Situations in the Outdoors

Safety in the great outdoors is largely a matter of common sense. You can– for the most part– stay safe if you use your head as you hunt, hike, or fish. The problem is that for every statement like that, there is an exception.

Every year outdoorsmen and women find themselves in situations that they were not expecting no matter how careful they were and the results can be disastrous. Whether it’s finding crocodiles on a dangerous beach or falling when you are hiking, running into a bear while you’re out fishing, or just a stalled car on a back road, you might need help. Quite frankly, even if its just a thorn while using outside toilet facilities something unexpected is going to happen at some point in your life.

The fact is that an emergency in the outdoors can happen to anyone, even someone who isn’t venturing farther from the road than a few feet. Getting stuck in your car on back country roads is a common emergency and has resulted in many fatalities because people did not plan for it.

What can be done to keep you safe in the great outdoors? Whether you are in a car, a truck, an ATV or you’re camping, fishing or just hiking the back trails, there are a few things that you can do to help to protect yourself.

No article is going to cover all of the potential situations in which you may find yourself. What will cover them is preplanning and the ability to keep yourself calm and think. The biggest weapon that we as humans have against dangerous situations is our ability to think. When we are calm we think better. If we “lose our heads” then we are at the mercy of the elements.

Preplanning for Emergencies
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There are are just a few things that you can do to prevent an emergency, but you can mitigate the damage.

Have a small go bag with you in your car all the time.
Ensure that it contains a compass and water.
If you are planning a hike or even just a ride on the back road with a camera, tell someone where you’re going to be and when you’ll be back. That’s the surest way to be sure that someone will look for you if you’re late.

If the Unexpected Happens
The most common thing that you’re going to find that defeats you is thinking “it can’t happen to me.” IT–whatever emergency IT is, can happen to anyone. Your car can stop on a back road, your atv can roll over, your compass can fail you, you can get lost. Stop thinking that it won’t happen and start planning for the time that it does. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

ANY time that you venture out to the back roads, whether in a car, an atv, hiking or otherwise, there are certain things that you do not leave home without. The first thing is telling someone–anyone–where you are going.

The second is to pack a bag that stays in your car. Into that bag put:

Matches or a lighter
A small flashlight
A days worth of medicine if you take medicine regularly
A quart bottle of water
2 energy bars
A small space blanket
a compass and pocketknife
An expandable hiking pole
A small signal mirror
2 water purification tablets
Never leave home without a fully charged cell phone. It may not always get a signal but even a faint one may save you too.

Change those items religiously and keep them up to date. In the event that you have an impromptu hike or drive, they are there if you need them. You may never need them, but it’s a lot nicer to have it if you need it.

In the Event of an Emergency
You’re driving along the back roads and your car stops. You’re hiking and you fall. Never think it can’t happen. Plan for it.

If it does happen:

Stop and take into account what is happening. Let’s face it, nobody wants to admit that they made a mistake or are in a situation they can’t handle but that is exactly what many people find themselves in.
Admit to yourself that the situation is dangerous and that you are going to need some help.

Never give up!

Think about your situation.
Action is good but action without thought is not going to help you.
Consider what you can do to help yourself. Is the best thing to do to stay put?
What are the chances that someone is looking for you and that you’re going to be found faster if you stay with your car or stay where you are?
If you are injured-determine the level of injury.
Treat it if you can and focus on ensuring your own survival.

Look at your situation from both your perspective and the perspective of search and rescue teams that will be coming to help you. Can they find you? Can you signal them?
Inventory what you have with you and how you can use it. This will have the effect of helping you to stay calm and to plan ahead to determine what you need to do to get out of this situation.

Observe your surroundings.
Can rescue aircraft see you?
Do you have anything that can be used to signal?
Perhaps moving to a better location that provides water and shelter and visibility would be better than in a deep canyon. Don’t go too far however, particularly if you do not know the terrain and if your vehicle can be a shelter for you.
As long as search and rescue know the general location they should be able to find you.
Plan your survival.
Look at your tools, materials, your surroundings.
Think about the many different uses of ordinary items in a survival situation.
If you don’t have water, find it. Heat and food are going to be the next order of business. Get warm, get hydrated and stay the course if you can.

What You Need to Survive
Humans need just a few things for survival:
Shelter and warmth

Studies show that most search and rescue teams are able to find people who are lost within 3 days. That means that you need to be prepared to survive for 3 days.

People can live for about 3 days before they die from dehydration. Water is your first concern! Any water will do if you are in an emergency.

Shelter means protection from the elements. Hypothermia is caused when the body loses more heat than it can produce. Blood rushes to the main core leaving the extremities feeling cold and numb. Soon victims become incoherent and irrational. This is a life threatening situation. Build a fire if it is cold. There are several ways to build a fire if you have no tools with you.
You must get out of the cold and warm up.OR
You must get out of the heat and stay cool and hydrated.
Knowing how to build a fire or keeping a lighter in your pocket can save your life.
Food is nice to have, but not required.
You aren’t going to starve in 3 days. (However, if you are a diabetic you have some additional issues.)

Learn What you Need to Know BEFORE YOU NEED IT
There are many resources available for those wishing to get more information on survival.
From books and videos to schools and even apps for your ipod or ipad, these resources will give you a much better understanding of survival in the great outdoors.
Learn what you can and you will be much better prepared for an emergency if it ever arises.
Learn what situations to avoid to prevent disasters.
Be aware of your surroundings, the wildlife and even the smallest of potential threats, such as a black widow spider, that you may encounter in a given area.

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